This section is a compilation of answers to the questions most commonly asked by parents of our clients. Start by following one of the links below. If you can’t find the question you wanted to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us.
- What does the Children's Rights Society do?
- Can I hire the Children's Rights Society to Represent my children in Family Court?
- What is Project SPEAK?
- Confidentiality Policy
- What happens after the court assigns the Children's Rights Society?
- What happens during the meeting with my child?
- I'm a parent. Can you give me legal advice?
- Will my child have to go to court?
We are a legal services agency for children. We represent children in the Orange County Family Court in cases involving custody and visitation, child abuse/neglect, juvenile delinquency, PINS, and child support. We also provide education law and advocacy for low income children in Orange and Sullivan Counties.
You cannot hire the Children's Rights Society to represent your children in Family Court. Family Court cases are handled by court assignment only. This insures that the child has independent counsel.
Project SPEAK is an education law and advocacy program that serves low income children in Orange and Sullivan Counties. "SPEAK" stands for Special Education Advocacy for Kids. In order to qualify for the SPEAK program, the family income cannot exceed 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Project SPEAK helps children who are experiencing problems in school. We can request that the school evaluate your child for special education services, and we can attend CSE meetings with you. We can also represent your child if he/she has been suspended from school. If your child has been suspended, please call us immediately.
Since we are a law office, we have a confidential relationship with our clients. Our client is the child. Because of this, we meet with the child alone, and we cannot disclose the details of our meeting with a child to the parent. Our office files and their contents are confidential as well.
If the child is an infant or pre-verbal toddler, confidentiality is not an issue, and the parent is generally asked to be present during the meeting.
What happens after the court assigns the Children's Rights Society?
Once you have learned that the court has assigned the Children's Rights Society to represent your child, please call our office within a few days to make sure we have your contact information. When you call our office it's helpful to have the court documents in front of you, because those documents contain important information, such as Family File number and Docket number to help us identify the case. We'll also need your child's name and date of birth. If you have your own attorney, please give us that information as well. We will then call you to set up an appointment to meet with your child.
Sometimes the next court date may be several months away. Sometimes the case is considered an emergency and the case is calendared again within days of your first appearance. The appointment date for your child will be scheduled near the next court date.
What happens during the meeting with my child?
Meetings with children take place in a child friendly setting. The parent is not present with the child unless the child is an infant or a pre-verbal toddler.
Your child will meet with either a social worker or attorney. Our staff is very experienced in talking to children of all ages, and is sensitive to the fact that families involved in the Family Court system are generally under a great deal of stress. We will discuss the matter with your child in an age appropriate manner, and listen to their point of view about the situation. We will counsel them on the possible outcomes and express their wishes in court.
If your child is very young, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your child's health and routine.
I'm a parent. Can you give me legal advice?
Attorneys can only give legal advice to their clients. Since the child is our client, we cannot give parents legal advice or tell a parent what to do in any particular situation.
If you have a question regarding your legal situation, please contact your lawyer, and they will assist you.
Will my child have to go to court?
We realize that court can be stressful - especially for kids. Most of the time, the case can be resolved without the child having to appear. However, there are some circumstances in which the child will have to come to court. For example, if a custody or visitation matter goes to trial, the child will appear in court privately with the Judge and their attorney. No parents will be permitted in the courtroom, and the child's testimony cannot be revealed.
You should not bring your child to court unless the Judge or Attorney for the Child has specifically requested that they appear.
Also, children in foster care are encouraged to attend their permanency hearings from age seven. The judge will ask them how they are doing.
Children involved in Juvenile Delinquency and PINS cases are required to be in court during every court appearance with their attorneys.